Key York road receives hope for major upgrades
The case for improving the A64 near York has been boosted by the decision to dual part of the city’s outer ring road, a highways chief has revealed.
Highways England director for major projects, Peter Mumford, said the A1237 was likely to see more traffic following last week’s Government announcement of funding to dual a seven mile stretch between Rawcliffe and Hopgrove.
He said this would support the case for improvements to the A64 north-east of York, which is fed by traffic coming off the ring road and is a single carriageway bottleneck.
However, he also said that while Highways England acknowledged that turning the A64 into a dual carriageway was an important project, it was also competing with other road projects elsewhere in the country.
His comments came at a meeting with Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake, York Outer MP Julian Sturdy and Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill, who are pressing for dualling.
Mr Hollinrake revealed in March that dualling might be shelved after discovering that highways experts had concluded a number of bridges would be needed to cope with the extra volume of traffic coming on to the dual carriageway from neighbouring areas.
Now the MPs have urged Highways England to provide the necessary business case reviews as soon as possible to inform the decision about whether the dual carriageway would be included in the road investment strategy post 2020 (RIS2), which is expected to be announced next month.
Mr Hollinrake said: “I repeatedly asked why Highways England’s assessment of the need and value for money of the improvements has gone from medium to low in the space of a few years, when the overall cost of £300 million remains the same.
“We cannot stress the urgency of this enough. Time is running out. We need to ensure that the full facts are available before a decision is taken.
“Dualling between Hopgrove and Barton Hill will make a massive difference to businesses, tourists and local people who are fed up with delays caused by bottlenecks on the A64.
“We want Highways England to provide details of its analysis to support its claims that the need and value for money of these improvements is now lower than it was since it carried out its initial studies in 2014.”
Mr Sturdy and Mr Goodwill said the A64 was such a “nightmare” that freight companies avoided using it, which was detrimental to existing businesses and deterred new businesses from starting up.
They said the case for dualling the A64 also had the support of Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams, East Yorkshire’s Greg Knight and the A64 Growth Partnership which includes Local Enterprise Partnerships, NYCC, Ryedale DC and businesses.
Mr Hollinrake said he had also had a further meeting with Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to press the case and another meeting was being arranged with Roads Minister Baroness Vere soon.
A Highways England spokesman said funding decisions over such schemes were still to be confirmed by the Department for Transport (DfT).
“We recognise the strength of feeling on this issue,” he said. “We have been testing the impact of potential improvements on the A1237 York Outer Ring Road scheme that is currently under development and will be providing DfT with this information.”